A Qiaodan store in Beijing. (Photo/Xinhua)
Chinese athletic brand Qiaodan says it is considering countersuing basketball legend Michael Jordan for malicious prosecution as their trademark dispute remains in limbo more than nine months after it was first filed, Shanghai's First Financial Daily reports.
Jordan, 49, sued Qiaodan in February, accusing the Fujian-based company of "deliberately and aggressively" misleading the public by using his name without permission. Qiaodan — a Chinese transliteration of "Jordan" — says it has been using the trademark legally since 2000 and is protected under Chinese law.
The company says it has been in talks with Jordan since March, but nine months of stalled negotiations has led the Chinese brand to suspect that the retired basketballer is not genuinely interested in a settlement.
Qiaodan accuses Jordan of trying to drag the case on indefinitely to tie up its resources and damage its business. "This no longer has anything to do with fairness or justice; it has become ugly commercial tactics," the company said, adding that it will not give up its right to use "legal avenues to protect its reputation."
Qiaodan said it believes Jordan had ulterior motives in filing the lawsuit because the company had been planning to go public on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, having invested heavily in a new manufacturing base, a research development center and other projects in anticipation of the listing. While the China Securities Regulatory Commission approved Qiaodan's IPO application in November, the company is still awaiting listing.
Industry analysts say Qiaodan, a second-tier brand in China, has been under significant pressure from first-tier competitors such as Nike, Adidas and local name Lining. According to Qiaodan's prospectus, the company recorded operating profits of 2.9 billion (US$464 million) in 2010. By comparison, domestic rivals Peak, Anta and Lining earned 3.8 billion (US$608 million), 7.3 billion (US$1.17 billion) and 8.6 billion (US$1.38 billion), respectively, during the same period.